Phd Student in Role of Small RNAs in Post-Embryonic Development of Insects

Catholic University of Leuven Kulak



Your future research job is situated in the context of a novel research project of the Molecular Developmental Physiology and Signal Transduction lab (at the Biology Department of KU Leuven).This research group studies the molecular mechanisms of post-embryonic developmental processes in insects. Details about its current research topics can be viewed via the website:


In metazoans, as well as in many other eukaryotes, a very large portion of the genome does not seem to code for proteins. Whereas this was initially believed to consist of ‘junk’ DNA, the advent of high-throughput sequencing methods challenged this view by the discovery of a great variety of non-coding transcript species. Currently, several classes of non-coding, regulatory RNAs are known to interfere with gene expression at different levels, as well as to be implicated in a multitude of biological processes. The discovery of this additional layer of regulatory complexity initiated a new scientific challenge, consisting of understanding the mechanisms by which non-coding transcripts exert important regulatory roles. In insects, several small RNA mediated pathways play crucial roles in antiviral immunity and development via a process that is generally designated as RNA interference (RNAi). In this project, we aim to unravel the molecular mechanisms of 'systemic RNAi', a condition in which the RNAi-signal spreads among the different cells and tissues within the insect's body, as well as to study the physiological (in vivo) significance of these spreading mechanisms. 



You have a MSc degree in biochemistry/biotechnology, biological sciences, bioscience engineering, or equivalent.

You have a good knowledge of animal biology, in particular entomology (both insect ecology and physiology).

You have a good knowledge of molecular biology, virology and immunology.

You are eager to learn, and have a lively interest in scientific research.

You can work very well in a team, as well as independently.

You have a positive and loyal work attitude: you are flexible and dynamic according to the requirements of the project; meticulous, involved and take your responsibilities very much to heart.

You have good communication skills, both orally and in writing (particularly in English).

You have an eye for detail, a sense of initiative and can proactively think/act.

You are efficient and stress resistant, and able to respect deadlines laid down.

You will follow the lab rules, as well as the rules of scientific integrity.

A strong interest and excellent skills in data analysis and bioinformatics are a plus.


Full-time (100%) fixed-term (1y) PhD fellowship, which will be prolonged on a yearly basis in case of positive evaluations [the maximal total (cumulative) duration of the PhD fellowship is 4 years].
For more information please contact Prof. dr. Jozef Vanden Broeck, tel.: +32 16 32 39 78, mail:
You can apply for this job no later than August 15, 2019 via the online application tool
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